Fulton Electric Department crews are working along Market Street this year as part of the city's plan to remove downtown utility poles and move electrical and communication lines underground.
"We have been putting about $200,000 in the city budget each year for the last several years to place utility lines underground," said Darrell Dunlap, Fulton Utility superintendent.
Dunlap said crews will work along Business 54 in the downtown area from about Sixth and Market streets to Eighth Street. He said that work would cost almost $200,000 and exhaust the undergrounding effort this year.
He said telephone, cable television and some fiber optic lines will be placed underground at the same time as electrical lines. "We want to get as much done at the same time and avoid tearing up the street several times," Dunlap said.
On Thursday crews were working to lay a conduit for electrical, telephone and cable television lines west of the Callaway County Library. Utility poles north of the library will be removed after the underground lines are completed.
The project also will include new street lights.
"We are leaning now toward historic lights in this area of downtown," Dunlap said.
He said last year city crews placed electric lines underground in subdivisions and at Callaway Community Hospital. All electric and communication lines around the new roundabout were placed under ground.
"All of the utility poles just north of McDonald's Restaurant to the other side of the roundabout were removed and the lines placed under ground," Dunlap said.
He said utility lines were placed under ground when the Commons Shopping Center that includes Sutherland's Lumber Co. was developed.
The downtown area has been targeted for undergrounding of utilities and all new residential subdivisions in the city are required to have underground utilities. Southwinds and Tangelwood subdivisions are examples of developments that have underground utilities.
"The underground program enhances the appearance of the city and it also makes the utility service more reliable. When utility lines are under ground they are not bothered by high winds, tornadoes and ice storms," Dunlap said. "Tree trimming costs also are reduced. On the downside, when we do have to make repairs we have to dig up the lines and this is expensive."
Dunlap said there is no master plan on undergrounding of electrical lines.
"We try to do as much as we can afford each year. But I don't foresee undergrounding all electric lines throughout the city," he said.
Dunlap said he is coordinating work with water and street crews.
"We want to complete as much work in one area as we can when we have a street torn up," he said.
Dunlap said separate work crews are replacing a gas line and a water line on Jefferson Street.
"They will start at Fifth Street and they will go up to 10th Street," he said.
Gas and water lines are included in separate lines from electric and communication services.
"It's finally getting dry enough for us to begin to repair some lawns that we have torn up this winter for electrical, water and gas improvements and repairs. We are on a full-court press to get these yards fixed that have been messed up this winter with utility work," Dunlap said. "If someone has a yard that needs to be fixed because of utility work it would be good to call our office and let us know where the lawn is located. The Utility Department number is 592-3170."
At the same time that city crews are working on street and utility lines, AT&T had crews working Thursday along 9th Street as part of an effort to lay fiber optic cable lines from the AT&T office to William Woods University. Workmen said AT&T crews will extend the line west from the current fiber optic terminus at Ninth and Center streets to Westminster Avenue and then north to William Woods University.